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Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.As the mineral cools, the crystal structure begins to form and diffusion of isotopes is less easy.At a certain temperature, the crystal structure has formed sufficiently to prevent diffusion of isotopes.On the other hand, the concentration of carbon-14 falls off so steeply that the age of relatively young remains can be determined precisely to within a few decades.

Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium–argon dating and uranium–lead dating.By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change.After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide or decay product.In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain, eventually ending with the formation of a stable (nonradioactive) daughter nuclide; each step in such a chain is characterized by a distinct half-life.

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